RogerBW's Blog

Elementary season 3 16 November 2015

2014-2015, 24 episodes. In modern New York, (a completely different) Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson consult for the police.

I'll admit it, I started watching this show because I thought it would be laughably bad. But compared with the BBC Sherlock that began around the same time, it's the one that has more interesting plots, better writing, occasionally three-dimensional characters, and women as more than sexy set dressing.

It also has things to say about the real world; this season contains revenge killings for toxic toys, murder as a way of committing insurance fraud, and hackers exposing dirty secrets, as well as mild science-fictional elements like prototype AI and cunning new drugs. There's a smaller principal cast than in many procedural shows, as generally it's just the police captain and one detective with any significant screen time apart from the two leads. The stars and the reasons to watch are definitely Holmes and Watson, both of whom are very distinct personalities; none of the "blundering idiot" about this doctor.

But this isn't just crime of the week, or even crime of the week with a Big Season Plot as Castle manages. Loose ends from one episode crop up half a season later in a different context; it's rather more like life than these things usually manage, even with a neat conclusion or cliffhanger every 42 minutes.

The season breaks are less convincing: season two ended with Holmes agreeing to work for MI6, but season three starts with his having been fired from that job and going back to the routine detective work. I don't suppose the massive changes hinted at at the end of this season will amount to anything either; the show is basically about Holmes and Watson solving crimes, with officialdom friendly but not able to give much assistance, and if it drifted far from that it wouldn't really work at all.

This isn't in my top rank of shows, and I may be sticking with it because I was so surprised that it was actually worth watching, but if you don't mind the basic police procedural format you may be pleasantly surprised at what can be wrapped up inside it.

The show was renewed for a fourth season.

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  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 11:07am on 16 November 2015

    Another show Like Elementary that manages to be better than its format is Grimm which is a supernatural Wessen of the week commits a crime police procedural. Somehow it manages to entertain and be engaging through engaging characters which is what Elementary has. Another show that has surprised us was Flash which really is candy floss but the the first season villain is played so well that it became compelling viewing.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:15am on 16 November 2015

    Thanks. In both those cases I find the premise/setting uncompelling, so I haven't been watching, but I'm glad to know that good writing is managing to thrive.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 04:39pm on 16 November 2015

    Elementary is something I keep meaning to start watching, and the forgetting. Maybe the lot for watching at my parents over Christmas when there's nothing else on?

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